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  • Writer's pictureClaire Frame

HCA Red List of Endangered Crafts

Updated: Apr 30, 2022

Recently, I attended a very interesting online event run by Heritage Crafts, to learn more about their Red List of Endangered Crafts in the UK.


The HCA first published this list in 2017 and through their commitment to keep the list updated, has seen it increase over the following years to 244 different crafts.


From Shoe Making to Hat Making, there are a huge variety of crafts on the Red List that are in the UK, and some of them being the best in the world. Many of the listed crafts though are kept alive by individuals, sadly unable to pass their skills on due to lack of provisions.


The list highlights the issues that effect the viability of heritage crafts, including training, recruitment, loss of craft skills, raw materials and tools.

Shoe and Boot Making is an Endangered Craft. "Chartreuse Wide Bars" from Conker, Devon.

Shoe and Boot Making


Who doesn't love a new pair of shoes?! I know I do, and am fascinated by the traditional skills of companies such as Conker, in Totnes, Devon. They have been crafting shoes and boots since 1977, creating bespoke ranges of footwear exclusive to them. They are continuing a tradition of British Craftsmanship, and also providing sustainable choices and job opportunities for their community. I also love them because they work with people such as People Tree who grow their cotton using methods and materials that have a low impact on the environmen. One of my favourite dresses is from People Tree via Conker, chosen as an invested piece to my wardrobe, with great ethics, sustainable manufacturing and an item with many wears!


Hat Making


Another craft that has made it to the list last year is Hat Making.


Mister Miller, based in Luton, centre for Hat Making, keeps this endangered craft alive as an individual, hand making hats from the finest wools, cashmeres and Harris tweeds, washed linen, seersucker, cotton and selvedge denim. Learning his skill from the age of 14, this is a true example of heritage crafts being kept alive.


There is a cross over here with Milliners who also make hats, and, expand their lines to bespoke fascinators, short runs, occasion wear and theatrical headwater. A real skill to own, crafters such as Sue Conboy have really mastered the art of keeping this craft alive. Based in Gloucester, Milliner Sue creates bespoke pieces to order, from blocked hats to fascinators for individual wear to stage entertainment, her creations are real centre pieces to be adorned and loved by all.








Papermaking


This one makes it to the Critically Endangered Crafts List. Only a few companies in the UK are making paper the traditional way, for commercial production, and able to employ more than 2 people. Two Rivers Paper, based in Somerset, are keeping this craft alive with beautiful creations being offered for sale, especially for artists and designers. Formed in 1976, Two Rivers is now one of a few commercially-operated hand-mills in the UK and Europe. Their team is made up of just 5 people.


A craft dating back to the 15th Century, it's currently only being practised in Scotland and England.




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